As the Premier League begins to wind down for another year, with just 8 matches remaining, the title race appears an almost foregone conclusion in favour of the surprise league leaders Leicester City. However, the bottom of the table is a much closer affair as 3 teams attempt to secure another season of top flight football. While broadcasting money reaches even loftier heights, the reward for avoiding demotion to the Championship is vital for the survival of smaller clubs. With just 3 points separating Norwich City, Sunderland and Newcastle United, the final relegation spots are still to be determined.
Norwich are the only team in the trio currently outside the relegation zone, though the Canaries have played an extra match compared to the North East sides. After a difficult run of fixtures, including a humiliating defeat to last-place Aston Villa, Norwich won for the first time in 10 games during the weekend, and will be hoping to build on the result to avoid the drop.
Sunderland yet again find themselves among the relegation positions, though as the quality of the opposition improves, doubts have been cast as to whether the Mackems will be able to survive against all odds. While manager Sam Allardyce has a reputations for helping teams remain in the Premier League, the Wearside club have endured a run of matches against the top teams. A home victory over Manchester United, as well as draws against Southampton, Spurs and Liverpool are impressive, though they will be wary of arch-rivals Newcastle following their 1-1 derby tie.
Finally, high-spending Newcastle United have resorted to the shock appointment of decorated manager Rafa Benitez in an attempt to leapfrog their rivals. The Spaniard is most well known for spells at Liverpool and Chelsea, winning the Champions League and Europa League at the respective teams. However, the Toon have picked up just 2 wins in 2016 despite activity in the January transfer window, and face Manchester City, Liverpool and Spurs in their final fixtures.